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Autodesk’s Announces “Indie” License for 3DS Max & Maya

Autodesk has announced a new licensing model for two of its flagship design software products; 3D Studio Max and Maya. Each of these programs is used for 3D modeling, Animation, and 3D Rendering and is considered among the best 3D modeling and rendering programs on the market today. The new Autodesk Indie license looks to make these powerful programs more accessible to smaller studios and freelancers.

Limited Eligibility

3D Studio Max licenses retail for $1,545/year or $195/month as an ongoing subscription. This is the studio price that, for many solopreneurs and smaller studios out there, is a bit hard to swallow. The 3DS Studio Max and Maya Indie licenses are available for $250/year, per license. That is; both would cost $500.

Before you get too excited, there are some eligibility requirements. Autodesk has outlined the following requirements for anyone seeking an Indie license:

  1. Annual gross revenue not in excess of $100,000 USD/year
  2. One license per user or organization
  3. Licenses limited to US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia

Who’s it For?

Autodesk is regarded as a leader in the 3D field when it comes to fair pricing for its products. They offer an incredible educational licensing program that allows free use of many of their most popular programs. This includes 3DS Max, Maya, Revit, AutoCAD, Inventor, Fusion 360, and many other software packages. These licenses require one to be a currently-enrolled student and aren’t very useful to fresh graduates and freelancers.

The Indie license clocks in at around $20/month which should be doable for anyone generating income as a 3D artist. You don’t get full access to the Autodesk catalog like the educational licensing provides but it’s still a far cry short of the full $200/month price tag. Nearly 12 times short in fact.

Trying Things Out

In a Facebook post, Autodesks Chip Weatherman made a point to convey Autodesk’s regard of the new Indie licensing program as being a “pilot” program. Weatherman had this to say:

Much like when the telecom companies offer a new channel in select areas to see how to roll it out, this is similar. The phrase “I want my MTV!” came from when MTV was not available to everyone. They put ads out telling people to call their cable provider & tell them “I want my MTV.” So call your resellers, direct sales, & yes even the product team & say “I want my Max Indie!”

So before you go on expecting this pricing to last forever realize it could end at any time. It’s hard to imagine Autodesk being able to roll back such a program without facing public backlash though. In recent years, 3D software giants such as Unity3D and Unreal Engine have popularized revenue-based licensing for smaller studios.

Where to Sign Up

Below are some quick links to the pages where you can learn more about qualifying and purchasing the new Indie license for 3DS Max, Maya, or both if you’re feeling froggy. One important thing to note: once you sign up for an Indie license you need to immediately turn off the autorenewal to avoid paying the full price in a year. Autodesk has made assurances that there will be no problems re-qualifying for an Indie license but that it will still be a manual qualification process.

Overall Thoughts

Autodesk has made a strong gesture to the 3D Community with its new Indie license. It seems no coincidence that this new license has been made available so near the recent release of Blender 3.0—an open-source 3D program that has been given a tremendous new facelift and feature expansion. Autodesk has expressed a modernized release schedule for 3DS Max and this new Indie license seems to be another vote of confidence that they’re willing to work hard to keep their subscribers.


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